A common goal many people share is trying to eat healthier, but many of those same people agree it takes work. The last thing you want to do after a long day is to spend hours preparing a healthy meal. What if I told you that there is a way you can make healthy food without the hours in the kitchen? Here are four easy AF recipe ideas that will actually make you want to eat well.
1. Healthy Granola (No, It’s Not an Oxymoron)
Granola is one of those confusing foods that is touted as both healthy and unhealthy. And for good reason- most granola is total crap. It’s full of healthy fiber and nuts, but it’s also chock full of sugar. Dr. Josh Axe, co-founder of Ancient Nutrients, notes that just four tablespoons of typical store-bought granola can have 13 grams of carbohydrates. And most brands contain hidden gems of sugar in the form of dried fruits, chocolate, and added sugars (in various forms).
But, if you’re willing to put in a little effort, you can cut the bad and boost the good, making granola a great addition to your healthy diet. This easy Crunchy Cacao Granola is modifiable, refined sugar-free, dairy free, vegan, high in protein, and can be eaten as cereal, an afternoon snack, or an add-in with yogurt. Plus, the batch is big enough to last you for a couple of weeks. If you’re not worried about carbs, try this healthy granola bar recipe for a post-workout pick-me-up.
2. Crispy Brussels Sprouts
Brussels Sprouts (yes, there’s an “s” on the Brussels…they are said to have originated in Brussels, Belgium) used to be one of mother nature’s most overlooked delights. But recently, they’ve gotten some good press, and they’re starting to pop up in healthier restaurants across the globe. They are rich in fiber, vitamin K, and antioxidants, making them healthy for virtually everyone. And, believe it or not, if cooked properly, they are quite tasty.
For the easiest of recipes, just wash, cut in half, coat with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roast them at 425 until browned. But to add a little zing, toss in a delicious balsamic glaze. If you’re craving something a bit richer, try brussels sprouts au gratin. You won’t be disappointed.
3. Switchel (What?)
Never heard of Switchel? It’s a drink from the late 17th century. Often called Haymaker’s Punch or Farmer’s Relief, it was used by farm workers when they were famished after a hard day’s labor. You could say it was the OG sports drink, refreshing workers and giving them the energy to finish the day.
What’s in it? It’s essentially an unrefined apple cider vinegar beverage with a natural sweetener, some ginger, and citrus fruit. You can batch make it and drink a little every day to help keep your immune system in top shape, lower your blood sugar, and lower your cholesterol. Here’s an easy and customizable recipe for this super-drink. Added bonus: you can use it as an adult beverage mixer!
Yes, it’s cliché, but it’s cliché for a reason. A healthy salad is so very, very, good for you. It takes virtually no time to make, and it’s full of fiber, vitamins, antioxidants, and potassium. Throw in an avocado, and you can double the list of benefits. Add a combination of a lean protein, hard boiled eggs, nuts, and a few dried fruits, and, boom! You have a delicious superfood in a bowl with very little effort.
A couple of caveats, though. First, the key is to eat a “healthy” salad. You can’t add a calorie and sugar laden dressing and expect it to be healthy. And putting lots of dried fruit and nuts will cause you to rack up the calories and carbs faster than you can say “metabolism.” Look for dressings without added sugars, or better yet, make your own with healthy oils and a vinegar of your choice (throw in some berries for added flavor).
Second, some people shouldn’t eat salad every day, as consuming raw vegetables can cause bloating. Keep an eye on how your body reacts, and balance the health benefits with the short-term results. And you shouldn’t limit yourself to vegetable salads only, try supplementing with a fruit salad or a smoothie.
Don’t want to figure out what to put in your salad on your own? Here’s a great recipe that packs a punch (as long as you use a healthy dressing). Add or remove ingredients to your taste. And to make things even easier, pre-cook multiple chicken breasts, and freeze those you don’t use (or, even easier, buy a package of frozen pre-cooked breasts).
But don’t forget that a healthy diet is only 80 percent of the work towards a healthier lifestyle. Where is the other 20 percent you ask? Exercise! Maintaining a routine physical activity holds an endless amount of benefits. It releases natural feel good brain chemicals (endorphins), reduces the need for the heart to pump more blood to the muscles by improving the muscles’ ability to draw oxygen from the blood, helps you control your weight, lowers your risk of heart disease, strengthens your muscles and bones, and makes it easier for you to do things you normally do, overall improving your health in general.
Any form of physical activity is good. Whether it’s pilates, yoga, joining the closest crossfit gyms in your area, taking up jogging or power-walking, attending HIIT or spin classes. Your options and possibilities are endless, you just have to find what works for you!
You see? Eating healthy doesn’t have to be hard. Now, make yourself a bite to eat, and go enjoy Netflix, you’ve earned it!
Written by: Tess DiNapoli
Tess DiNapoli is an artist, freelance writer, and content strategist.
She has a passion for yoga and often writes
about health and wellness, but also enjoys
covering the fashion industry and the world of fitness.